Solar Continues Strong as Renewables Provide 88.2% of New U.S. Electrical Generating Capacity in May


The latest FERC Energy Infrastructure report shows that renewables continue to provide most of new installed electrical generating capacity in the U.S. For May, solar remained high on the list of new generation at 156 MW.


According to the latest Energy Infrastructure Update report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), wind, solar, biomass, and hydropower provided 88.2% of new installed U.S. electrical generating capacity for the month of May.

Solar was high on the list of new generation at 156 MW. Wind led the pack at 203 MW, while 5 MW came from biomass and 0.2 MW from hydropower.

By comparison, natural gas provided just 49 MW — and as we’ve been seeing lately, no new capacity was provided by coal, oil, or nuclear power. That means that for May, renewables provided more than seven times the amount of new capacity than fossil fuels and nuclear power combined.

For the first five months of 2014, renewable energy sources (biomass, geothermal, solar, water, wind) accounted for 54.1% of the 3,136 MW of new domestic electrical generating installed — with solar leading the way. The breakdown: solar (907 MW), wind (678 MW), biomass (73 MW), geothermal steam (32 MW), and water (8 MW).

During the same time period, coal and nuclear provided no new capacity, while 1,437 MW of natural gas, 1 MW of oil, and 1 MW of “other” provided the balance.

Since January 1, 2012, renewable energy sources have accounted for nearly half (47.83%) of all new installed U.S. electrical generating capacity, followed by natural gas (38.34%) and coal (13.40%), with oil, waste heat, and “other” accounting for the balance.

Renewable energy sources, including hydropower, now account for 16.28% of total installed U.S. operating generating capacity. We’d like for solar to get higher on this list, though it’s making some headway. As it stands now, water leads with 8.57%, followed by wind at 5.26%, biomass with 1.37%, solar providing 0.75%, and geothermal steam at 0.33%. This is more than nuclear (9.24%) and oil (4.03%) combined.

“Some are questioning whether it’s possible to satisfy the U.S. EPA’s new CO2 reduction goals with renewable energy sources and improved energy efficiency,” noted Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign, in a press release today.”The latest FERC data and the explosion of new renewable energy generating capacity during the past several years unequivocally confirm that it can be done.”

As always, it’s important to remember that generating capacity is not the same as actual generation. Actual net electrical generation from renewable energy sources in the United States now totals about 13% according to the most recent data (as of March 2014) provided by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.